US trade gap shrinks to $38.5 bn in December

The US trade deficit shrank more than expected in December, to $38.5 billion, as imports dropped sharply, Commerce Department data released Friday showed.

The trade shortfall was well below the average analyst estimate of $45.4 billion and followed three months of widening deficits.

The Commerce Department revised November's reading down to $48.6.

In December, exports totaled $186.4 billion, up $3.9 billion from November. Imports of $224.9 billion were $6.2 billion less than the prior month's reading.

On a 12-month basis, exports were up 4.9 percent and imports fell 2.0 percent.